The ACGT and the CSIR recently hosted the first Regional Synthetic Biology Forum. The event was held on the 21st of August 2011 at the CSIR Knowledge Commons and was graciously sponsored by Inqaba Biotec.
The event attracted attendance from all ACGT partner institutions, as well as representation from the DST and MINTEK. With 75 delegates in attendance, the proceedings were also streamed to a live audience. The forum served to introduce the broader scientific community to the emerging research area of Synthetic Biology and current research activities in this area at CSIR and WITS.
The proceedings started with a welcome by Dr Raymond Sparrow (CSIR). Invited speakers included: Prof Marco Weinberg (WITS), Dr Musa Mhlanga (CSIR), Prof Anne Grobler (NWU), Prof Julian Kinderlerer (UCT and Delft) and members of the Wits/CSIR international Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition team of 2011. The keynote address was given by Prof Kinderlerer on the Ethics considerations of Synthetic Biology. Prof Weinberg and Dr Mhlanga provided background on the area of synthetic biology and gave a brief rundown on the work being undertaken at WITS and the CSIR respectively. Other topics covered included the South African BioDesign Initiative (SABDI, Prof Grobler) and the iGEM competition. The iGEM team gave a brief presentation on their project, activities and public appearances around iGEM this year. The event was concluded with a tour of the Synthetic Biology ERA facilities at the CSIR.
With active engagement and participation between the audience and presenters, the forum set the scene for the next instalment, which is promised to be filled with current research findings and outputs emanating from synthetic biology projects currently underway in the region. The next forum will be held in early 2012.
View the recorded talks from the Forum: